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BFI boards Saul Dibb-Sam Claflin war-drama 'Journey's End'

EXCLUSIVE: Shoot underway on adaptation of WWI classic; Asa Butterfield, Paul Bettany, Toby Jones co-star.

The BFI has boarded production finance on director Saul Dibb’s (Suite Française) adaptation of the classic British stage play Journey’s End.

Principal photography got underway earlier this month in Cardiff and Ipswich on the feature which stars Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games) in the lead role alongside Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind), Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire) Asa Butterfield (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Tom Sturridge (Far From the Madding Crowd).    

Simon Reade’s adaptation of R.C. Sherriff’s 1928 play also draw’s on the latter’s novel co-written with author Vernon Bartlett. Guy de Beaujeu is producing with Reade through their production company, Fluidity Films (Private Peaceful).

Sam Claflin tweets from the set of Journey's End.

Director of photography is Laurie Rose whose most recent credits include Free Fire and High Rise. The creative team includes editor Tania Reddin, production Designer Kristian Milsted (The Girl With All the Gifts), and costume designer Anushia Nieradzik (A United Kingdom). 

The production is financed by the BFI, Fluidity Films, British Film Company, Metro International, Ingenious, The Welsh Government’s Media Investment Budget and uMedia.

Metro International Entertainment is handling worldwide sales. Molinare will handle post production.

In Journey’s End, set in the trenches of WWI, 18-year-old new recruit Lieutenant Raleigh (Butterfield) has pulled strings to join his childhood friend and hero Captain Stanhope (Claflin) on the front line.

Paul Bettany tweets from the set of Journey's End

However, Stanhope is horrified by Raleigh’s arrival into the tension and claustrophobia of the officers’ dugout where they are anticipating a massive German advance.

Stanhope has been altered almost beyond recognition by three years of war, kept going only by the thought that when the war is over he can return to his love – Raleigh’s sister Margaret.

Mary Burke of the BFI commented: “The BFI is proud to be backing the resurrection of this seminal British drama and believe that, with Saul’s vision, the revival of this important work for the screen will have a profound resonance with contemporary audiences.”

Guy de Beaujeu, producer said: “We are honoured to be bringing the greatest drama ever written about war to the big screen. With this cast and director we will create the unmissable, emotional and totemic WW1 film for the Centenary.”

Readers' comments (7)

  • "the greatest drama ever written about war to the big screen"... ??? Calm down mate... haven't you ever read Tolstoy? What about 'All Quiet on the Western Front'? Or Hemingway's 'A Farewell to Arms'? Don't get all Trumpy on us, justy cos you've managed to finance your film. You do a disservice to your film, cast and project by making such ridiculous, self-aggrandising statements.

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  • How does this conform to the BFI's Three Ticks initiative??

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  • The BFI is under political pressure from DCMS to be seen to invest in some WW1 "project" as per other National Lottery funding bodies. Credit to Fluidity for spotting that opportunity/weakness, packaging it with a director who the BFI could be comfortable with and grabbing the loot. Hopefully it be rather more memorable than Private Peaceful, their last shambolic offering.

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  • I have no problem with the producers getting things done, good for them and I wish them every success with it. What I can't understand is how the BFI can preach diversity and then back projects with an all white male cast, white male director, white male writer and white male producers. Diversity is broader than gender and ethnicity but this really doesn't show them progressing the diversity agenda, at a time that it is so sorely needed.

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  • See above comment about WW1 and Lottery! BFI works to all sorts of agendas....

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  • It's just words, folks, they spout off about diversity, but when it comes to it, actions speak louder than words

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  • I suspect the film is in trouble already....

    BFI awarded it production funding of £700,000 on 2nd November but has had to make a further award of £150,000 on 23rd November ! Fanny Lye here we come !!

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